Nashville Predators 2, Minnesota Wild 4: Wild stifle Preds, Dubnyk beats his (barely) former team

It's been the away team's series thus far, and the Wild take down the Preds in their first visit to Music City.

The Minnesota Wild trekked to Nashville to close the gap in the Central an eensy bit, while doing what they could to get themselves back into the playoff picture. They were one point behind the Calgary Flames for the last Wild Card spot starting action tonight. Red-hot Devan Dubnyk lined up opposite season-hot Pekka Rinne in a game that looked like minimal goals were going to be scored.

That was... not exactly the case. The goalies saw the twine they are sworn to protect pierced repeatedly in the second period. Four different players (two for each team) lit the lamp, and set up a one goal game going into the third. Though the Preds tried to pour the pressure on, Minnesota was not giving them any good chances, and Dubnyk stopped everything he saw. An empty netter sealed the Preds fate, and they lost only their fourth game at home all season.

Random Observations

  • The last time Ryan Ellis played for the Preds was January 8th. That's 21 straight games, for those of you playing the home game. He (and his wicked beard) finally got back into game action tonight as he paired with Seth Jones. Ellis ended the game with two shots, a 57.14 CF% in 11:29 TOI.
  • That low ice total came because Laviolette benched both Ellis and Franson in the latter half of the third period. According to WOI's shift chart, neither of them hit the ice after about the 50 minute point in the game. Hmmm.
  • Dave Strader made some comments about the fans booing Ryan Suter. Gee, I'm sure this will go over well.
  • Didn't look like Rinne saw the bomb that Erik Haula dropped at all. Cody Franson just happened to be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the point shot got through to break the scoring.
  • Most of you were probably still at your fridge when Mike Fisher scored his 14th of the season with 16 seconds into the second period. It was an omen of things to come...
  • So the second period was a little, um, rowdy. We saw call and response goals all over the pace, let's see if you can keep up: Fisher ties the game right away (woo!) only to have Kyle Brodziak tie it. Womp. No matter, just over a minute later Craig Smith re-ties the game with his 20th goal of the season. Woo! Not so fast, just over another minute later Roman Josi's Olympic teammate Nemo Nincompooper Nino Niederreiter gave the Wild back the lead. Womp womp. That's also not counting chances missed by Justin Fontaine, Charlie Coyle and a few Predators. Now, go catch your breath.
  • Congrats to Smith, the newest member of the 20-goal club. It's his second consecutive season with 20 goals, and hopefully there are many more to come. Paging Colin Wilson, your table is ready for you.
  • Minnesota somehow was doing a really good job working the Preds out of sync all night. They were pressuring often, and many times Nashville looked like they were rushing passes and plays, which causes several turnovers. In fact, the Preds had 17 giveaways in the game, compared to Minnesota's 6. I'd also like to see the shot charts when they're updated to see where they were shooting from. Despite winning the possession and SAT battle, it didn't seem like the Wild were giving Nashville many good quality chances.
  • Many, including myself, have criticized Matt Cullen's play and questioned his placement on the second line. Well, tonight may have been his best game this year, and his line was clicking through most of the game. Cullen-Fisher-Smith had 5 combined shots and 5 combined points in around 13-15 minutes of ice time. Considering there were plenty of lineup swaps throughout the game, seeing them click is at least a semi-bright spot.
  • Nine and a half minutes into the 3rd period, Rinne got caught in a tornado or something. He was spinning all over the place, lost his stick and probably turned his clothes inside out. Thankfully the Wild didn't get a shot off, or that would have been bad news.
  • Devan Dubnyk, Hero of Minnesota.

Yeah, that loss kind of stinks. The Wild just happened to do a great job of smothering the Predators' scoring chances tonight, and Dubnyk continued his run of strong play. There are still a couple of games left to go between the two clubs this season, and they will no doubt be close. Especially if Minnesota is still hanging around the playoff bubble. Just try not to think too much about these two teams playing each other in the first round right now. The Preds may be leading the season series, but if the Wild stick to that game plan it could get ugly fast. I guess we just have to wait to see how Nashville responds on March 17th. #DubnykRegression2015

OTF's Super Duper Stars of the Game

  • Devan Dubnyk - Boo.
  • Matt Cullen - Not boo.
  • Seth Jones - Also not boo. Purty güd defensive play on that odd man rush there, young man./

Tweets of the Game

Boxscore - Game Summary - Event Summary - War-on-Ice - HockeyStats - Natural Stat Trick

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